Last Updated 26.6.17

US FIRE BOMBER OPERATORS : Part 1: A

A historical survey of US heavy air tankers to the year 2000, compiled by Geoff Goodall




Hawkins & Powers Aviation Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer N2871G landing at Fox Air Tanker Base, Lancaster CA
in September 1981. It was one of six tankers working a distant mountain wildfire.                 Photo by Geoff Goodall


       This series archives information I have compiled on the businesses and aircraft fleets of air tanker operators in the United States since commercial aerial fire bombing commenced in the 1950s.  I started this listing in 1980 after visiting North America and seeing the variety of colourful former military aircraft and propeller airliners deployed as air tankers.  Information on some operators has not been found, especially the smaller outfits based on partnerships between pilots or family-run operations. I am pleased to have been able to add to the bare facts from talking to career tanker men during my US visits, also the recollections of veteran tanker pilots deployed to Australia for our summer bushfire seasons.
        During the 1990s the US Forest Service, primary contractor for the US air tanker fleet, began implementing a series of policy changes which resulted in many older piston-engined aircraft types being excluded from USFS air tanker contracts, with priority given to turbines (P-3s and C-130As).  Long established operators lost their annual summer USFS contracts and were forced to shut down.
        1990 also brought the beginnings of the USFS Air Tanker Scandal in which USAF surplus C-130As issued to tanker operators under a USFS scheme to modernise the fleet were used for military support logistics contracts in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf Wars. Media investigation revealed that C-130As and P-3As delivered to tanker companies specifically to be modified as fire bombers had in fact being on-sold or used for other purposes. The scandal dragged on for a decade, resulting in a USFS officer and tanker identity being convicted of fraud and jailed. The investigation also encompassed the established practice of trading retired fire bombers to the USAF and US Navy museums in exchange for retired military aircraft, which provided newer aircraft to be tanked or for commercial resale.

       In 2002 two tragic structural-failure accidents during retardant drops resulted in C-130As and PB4Y Privateers being grounded, which spelt the end for Hawkins & Powers Aviation of Wyoming after 45 years in the tanker business.  Mandatory inspections then found structural cracks in the mainplanes of tanker Neptunes which were also grounded until an FAA-approved repair plan was completed. These events accelerated growing antipathy on ecology grounds within some sections of the USFS heirachy against oil-dripping piston-engined tankers. Now "public safety" could be quoted as the reason for dropping contracts to long-established operators, in some cases with little consultation. The FAA joined in with increased "old airplane" surveillance requirements. Established tanker companies with high operational standards which enjoyed the full confidence of the USFS at operational levels lost annual contracts worth up to $5M  income.  Jet tankers were seen as the answer, but the finance required for that step resulted in only a handul of corporate-financed operators surviving.
      
      The face and feel of the original US air tanker industry had changed forever. For this reason I have made the year 2000 the cut-off for fire bomber operators included in this historical listing. I want to record the remarkable variety of fire bombing outfits, their people and their aircraft before they are forgotten.
      
       I have included agricultural spraying operators which used heavy aircraft. These may have been used for fire bombing, possibly for Bureau of Land Management, State agencies, or contracts with commercial timber businesses. These are marked *

       This listing is just a starting point. I hope it can generate additional and correcting information. Please Email me via the CONTACT page.


Abe's Aerial Service Inc, Stafford Arizona
Abraham (Abe) B. Stellards, Stafford AZ
1963 USFS fire bombing contractor list included Abe's Aerial Service B-17 N17W and B-25s N6193C, N9117Z
In early 1963 Abe Sellard merged with air tanker firm Aircraft Specialties Inc at Mesa-Falcon Field AZ, under a new parent company named Aviation Specialties Inc. Abe Sellards continued as proprietor until the companys closure in 1985.

Aircraft
Registration
Identity
Dates owned
Tanker #
Remarks
Boeing B-17F N17W
42-29782
1960-4.63   E84
Leased .60 ex Central Aircraft Corp, Yakima WA
converted 5.60 from sprayer to fire tanker #E84,
commenced fire bombing operations 8.60,
purchased 26.10.61
tfd 4.63 Aviation Specialties Inc, Mesa AZ
B-25 Mitchell N6123C
44-86893
10.58-4.63   C34
Registered 8.10.58 ex USAF disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ
tanked 5.59 fitted with agricultural spray bars
tfd 4.63 Aviation Specialties Inc, Mesa AZ
B-25 Mitchell N9117Z
44-29199
1.60-4.63   C35
Registered 1.60 ex USAF disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ
tanked 4.60 fitted with agricultural spray bars
tfd 4.63 Aviation Specialties Inc, Mesa AZ




Boeing B-17F N17W tanker #E84 at Bakersfield CA in July 1962.                 Photo by William T. Larkins




George C. Abell, Topanga California
Purchased the two Columbia Flying Service Grumman Avenger fire tankers and continued to operate them for several years.

Grumman TBM
N9710Z
Bu53804
c1965-1969
 E79

purchased c65 ex Columbia Flying Service #E79
retired by 1969 at Grass Valley CA
sold c70 to Ralph M. Ponte, Grass Valley CA,
restored as a warbird
Grumman TBM
N9718Z
Bu53818
c1965-1969
 E89
purchased c65 ex Columbia Flying Service #E89
sold c70 to Ralph M. Ponte, Grass Valley CA,
restored as a warbird





George Abell's TBM N9710Z #E79 retired at Grass Valley CA September 1969.     Photo by Gordon Reid




Aerial Applicators Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah

Fire bombing operation based at Salt Lake City Airport.
Grumman TBM Avenger tanker fleet were painted orange and black.
By 1970 the company was a subsidiary of Trans West Air Service, Managing Director John Streeter
Ceased operations during 1981 when remaining aircraft were sold to other tanker companies.
Other aircraft:
T-6 Texan N7296C, Bell 47s N1166W, N1332X, N73914, Beech Twin Bonanza N5688D

Grumman TBM Avenger N7849C
Bu91617
1.59-1965

purchased 29.1.59
fate unknown, struck-off USCR 22.5.65
Grumman TBM
N4167A 5237
1.62-1965  
purchased 31.1.62,
fate unknown, struck-off USCR 22.5.65
Grumman TBM N4172A Bu53708
by 1963-1975  D18
retired, stripped hulk at SLC 1975
Grumman TBM N7029C Bu53914
8.63-2.72  D16 sold 2.72 to Hicks & Lawrence as CF-BQS
Grumman TBM N7848C Bu91206
by 1963-5.64  D15 crashed destroyed Rome, Oregon 22.5.64
Grumman TBM N7858C Bu91171
by 1966-5.72  D17 sold 5.72 to Hicks & Lawrence as CF-BQT
Grumman TBM N8397H Bu69459
by 1963-1974  D15
purchased 8.63 ex Cisco Aircraft Inc, Lancaster CA
stored u/s SLC 1966, became the second #D15
Grumman TBM N8398H Bu53607
8.63-3.71  D20
purchased 8.63 ex Cisco Aircraft Inc, Lancaster CA
sold 3.71 to Hicks & Lawrence as CF-ZYC
Grumman TBM N9592C Bu53256
by 1963-6.71  D19
sold 2.72 to Hicks & Lawrence as CF-ZYB
Grumman TBM not found

1963

Aerial Applicators TBM crashed in Utah 31.7.63
B-25 Mitchell N7687C 44-28925
8.64-5.68
sold 5.68 to Tallmantz for movie Catch 22
Douglas DC-6 N80MA 43127
5.72-7.81  D20
sold 7.81 to Sis-Q Flying Service
Douglas DC-6 N90MA
43128
5.72-7.81  D21
sold 7.81 to Sis-Q Flying Service
Douglas DC-7B N4889C
45353
7.75-8.81  (29)
spare aircraft, stored
Allocated tanker #29 but not tanked
sold 7.81 to Douglas County Aviation
Douglas DC-7C N90804
45116
12.75-8.81  28
sold 7.81 to Douglas County Aviation





Grumman TBM Avengers N4172A and N7858C at Salt Lake City UT in August 1966.          Photo by Neil Aird




TBM N8398H tanker #D20 at Salt Lake City in August 1966.                                  Photo by Neil Aird




Aerial Applicators Inc's nose art shown on their DC-6 N80MA.                              Photo by Geoff Goodall




DC-6 N80MA tanker #20 in Aerial Applicators Inc markings at Santa Rosa CA September 1981 soon after
both DC-6s were sold
to Sis-Q Flying Services at Santa Rosa.                          Photo by Geoff Goodall


Aero Ag Inc, Medford, Medford Municiple Airport Oregon
In early 1963 took over the fleet of Rogue Flying Service at Medford OR. Operated agricultural work as well as fire bombing.
Ceased operations by 1971 when remaining aircraft sold
Other aircraft:
Boeing Stearman N5158N, N1055N,
Callair A9B N7948V
Cessna 182G N3402S, Cessna 188 N9734V 
Boeing B-17G N5233V 44-83863
4.63-1971
 F71
tfd 1.4.63 ex Rogue Flying Service
sold .71 to Idaho Aircraft Corp ID
PV-2 Harpoon
N7459C
Bu37230
4.63-1968
 30
tfd 1.4.63 ex Rogue Flying Service
 sold .68 to Clarks Aerial Service TX





Aero Atlas Inc, Red Bluff, California
By 1957 established as an agricultural operator.
At that time military surplus Beech AT-11 Kansans were in widespread use across USA as agricultural sprayers and dusters, with hoppers installed in their bomb bays. Aero Atlas converted Beech AT-11s to fire tankers, installing two 1500 lbs max weight liquid retardant tanks inside the cabin with belly drop chute.
In 1959 carried out the first fire tanker conversion of a Douglas A-26 N
5457V.
Ceased operations by 1963. Probably taken over by P&B Aviation, Red Bluff

Beech AT-11
N6956C 42-37217
9.58-7.61
 28
two liquid tanks installedd for fire bombing in 7.59; sold 7.61 to P&B Aviation, Red Bluff
Beech AT-11 N6961C 43-10423
by 1961
 25 to
 26
crashed on takeoff 25.7.61
Beech AT-11 N6962C 42-37569
12.57-12.59
 27
crashed on takeoff 1.12.59 carrying 2400 lbs weight of nitrate sulphate fire retardant
Beech AT-11 N68Q 43-10372
by 1961-1963
 E24
sold c62 to P&B Aviation, Red Bluff
Beech AT-11 N79Q 43-10435
9.58-7.59
 E25
sold 7.59 to SV Flying Service CA
Douglas A-26
N5457V 44-34313 by 1959-c1963  27
sold c63 to Wilson Aviation Industries ID
Douglas A-26 N7719C
43-22392 by 1961-c1963  26
sold c63 to Rosenbalm Aviation OR
Douglas A-26 N3428G
44-35523
by 1961-c1963
   -
no civil conv, sold c63 to Rosenbalm Aviation OR





The first Douglas A-26 tanker N5457V at Red Bluff in June 1961, with two Aero Atlas AT-11s behind.
Photo by Milo Peltzer




A-26 N7719C #26 with "Aero Atlas Inc"on the rear fuselage, at Medford OR in December 1961.
Photo by Ron Olsen


Aero Crop Service, Tolleson Arizona

Aero Crop Service Inc, Tolleson AZ
Operated at least one Grumman Avenger fire tanker.

Grumman TBM
N9547Z Bu85957
by 1963-c1965
   E80
sold c65 to Reeder Flying Service ID as #E80





TBM N9547Z #E80 looking freshly painted at Chino CA in March 1962.              Photo by Barney Deatrick




Aero Enterprises Inc, Troutdale Oregon, later Fresno California
Established at Troutdale OR in 1946 by Robert M. Sturges trading as Columbia Airmotive Inc
During WWII Bob Sturges had been a Boeing technical rep in Britain on B-17s and after the war set up Columbia Airmotive as an aircraft and parts dealership. He acquired the majority of Boeing's B-17 spare parts after the B-17 production lines were closed at the end of the war, making Columbia Airmotive the main source of B-17 support for civil and military customers.
In 1954 Sturges purchased the B-17 parts inventory of Kindred Aviation, Burbank CA which had broken up the final twenty B-17s of the vast numbers of war surplus aircraft at Kingman AZ.

Bob Sturges was a businessman and aviation entrepreneur, later being elected mayor of Troutdale. Sturges was among the first to design liquid tanks for larger aircraft initally for agricultural spraying but with the potential to drop retardant on fires. 
Columbia Airmotive continues to this day as a Sturges family business at Troutdale Airport, specialising in antique aircraft parts.
During the 1950s Sturges formed two tanker businesses at Troutdale: Aero Flight Inc and Aero Enterprises Inc. 
Among his many surplus military aircraft purchases, Sturges had acquired a derelict B-17F instructional airframe at Clarkston WA. He made it airworthy during 1953 and ferried it to Troutdale in February 1954 as N1340N. It was stored until converted to tanker #A34 at Klamath Falls OR in 7.61. Ownership transferred to Aero Enterprises Inc, Fresno in July 1964.

Aero Enterprises Inc moved base from Oregon to Fresno CA in 1964 when the company was taken over by Willis "King"Baker, an established tanker operator with bases at Willows CA and Fresno. King Baker had earlier been with CISCO Aircraft, Lancaster CA.
The purchase of the Northrop Reporter N9768Z from Mexico was a bold move by Baker to introduce a larger tanker, with a 1600 US gallon tank installed under its belly.
Aero Enterprises Inc at Fresno purchased North American T-28A Trojan N499KB circa 1967, using King Baker's initials. Sold by 1970.
The Fresno-based operation also used the name Farmers Aero Ag, Fresno CA.
Ceased operations in 1968 after selling both B-17s and leasing the Northrop Reporter to other Californian tanker operators

Aero Enterprises Inc/ Columbia Airmotive Inc, Troutdale OR:

Boeing B-17F N1340N
42-6107
1961-7.64
  A34
liquid tanks installed in bombay 7.61 by contractor at Klamath Falls OR
tfd 28.7.64 to Aero Enterprises Inc, Fresno CA
Boeing B-17G N7228C
44-83857
2.62-2.63
   
purchased ex Aero Service Corp as derelict stripped parts ship at Philadelphia PA,
rebuilt, registered 20.2.62 to Columbia Airmotive,
sold 2.63 to King Baker Inc, Willows CA



Aero Enterprises Inc/ King Baker Inc, Fresno CA & Willows CA:

Boeing B-17F N1340N
42-6107
7.64-1.68
  E34
 

sold 19.1.68 to Aero Flite Inc WY
Boeing B-17G N7228C
44-83857
3.65-3.66
  B31
purchased 3.65 ex King Baker Inc, Fresno
sold 3.66 to Aero Flite Inc WY
Northrop F-15A
Reporter
N9768Z
45-59300
6.64-11.64
  E65
purchased 1.64 ex XB-FUJ Mexicana Aerofoto,
tanked by Cal Nat Airways for Aero Enterprises,
CofA 17.6.64 as tanker #E65
named The Pregnant Widow
lsd 11.64-68 to Cal Nat Airways CA as #E35
sold 3.68 to TBM Inc CA as #E35
crashed on takeoff Hollister CA 6.9.68





B-17F N1340N at Long Beach CA in 1964 as tanker E34 and "Aero Enterprises" visible behind the engines.
Photo by Eddie Coates




N1340N in a later paint scheme with Aero Enterprises.                           Scott A. Thompson collection




The one and only Northrop F-15 Reporter fire bomber, N9768Z #E35 at Fresno 1964. At this time it was
painted yellow and white, with
"AEI Aero Enterprises Inc, Fresno Calif" on the nose.




Aero Flight Inc, Troutdale, Oregon
Air tanker business founded by Robert M. Sturges, later elected mayor of Troutdale, Oregon and proprietor of Columbia Airmotive Inc at Troutdale Airport. See preceding listing for Aero Enterprises Inc.
Liquid tanks were designed for various ex miltary aircraft, initially for agricultural spraying work, but Sturges was among the very early fire bombing experimentation. Robert's son Ray Sturges was also involved with Aero Flight.
Aero Flight's Chief Engineer E.H. Fletcher maintained the A-24 sprayers and A-26 tankers
Aero Flight Inc operated Douglas Dauntless N9142H and N4488N for many years on a mosquito spraying contract for the City of Portland.

Through his business Columbia Airmotive, Bob Sturges acquired a variety of aircraft. Some of the more interesting: 
- B-25 Mitchell N7674 purchased 1.69, flown in camouflage "Dirty Gertie from Bizerti", sold 6.78
- B-17G 44-83842 USAAF registered NL1212N to Columbia Airmotive in 1947. Sold 1948, ferried to Israel but impounded by Portugal
- B-17/PB-1G Bu77253 US Coast Guard ran off runway into lake NAS Sand Point WA 26.8.53. Wreck acquired by Sturges for parts.
- B-17G 43-38978 USAAF donated to Oregon State University at Corvallis: acquired by Sturges in 1955, broken up for parts
- Beech C-45F 44-87376 purchased from USAF disposals  2.60 for $6,339, CofA 10.61, sold 1.62 as N6778C
- P-40E N1223N ex RCAF 1038: acquired 1949, swapped with Leo "Ace" Demers at Salem Oregon for an Aeronca Chief
- P-40M N1233N ex RCAF 840: acquired 1954, advertising sign at Troutdale Airport then stored, sold 7.79, restored as warbird N1009N
- P-40K 42-9733: wartime USAAF wreck Amchitka Island, Aleutians: salvaged in 1969 by Sturges. Sold 1971. restored as warbird N4363
- In 1973 Sturges was negotiating with RAF Museum to supply the Stranraer CF-BXO and his Kittyhawk N1233N
Other aircraft regustered to Columbia Airmotive:
- Beech AT-11 N56263 purchased 2.9.63 ex Aero Service Corp (ex magnetometer survey), sold 8.1.73
- T-6 Texan N7975C, Stinson L-5 N63085, Vultee BT-13 N73731

Grumman TBM
N9594C
Bu538091
1957

Registered 20.2.57 Aero Flight Inc,
struck-off USCR 20.9.57
Douglas A-26 N86469 43-22511
1963-1969
  F57 to
  F56
sold .69 to Aero Union, Chico CA
Douglas A-26
N8026E
44-35323
1968-1969
  C55
sold .69 to Aero Union, Chico CA





Douglas A-26 N86469 tanker #56 at Troutdale, Oregon circa August 1965.                    Ron Olsen collection


Aero Flite Inc, Cody, Wyoming, later Kingman Arizona
Founded in 1963 as a fire bombing business by brothers John W. and J. Ray Eglin,  at Cody WY where they operated Elgin Flying Service which was a Cessna dealership.  Ray Elgin was Aero Flite President and both brothers flew the tankers.

Turbo B-17 N1340N: The Elgin brothers were determined to improve B-17 performance by re-engining at least two B-17s with four RR Dart turboprop power plants from retired Viscount airliners. Aero Fite Inc planned to market the re-engining STC to other B-17 operators and made a signicant financial investment in the redesign and engineering modifications necessary. Aero Ventures Inc, an experienced tanker maintenance company at Twin Falls Idaho was tasked to carry out the work. At the end of the 1969 fire season, the first aircraft N1340N was delivered to Twin Falls. Two ex United Airlines Viscount 745Ds were acquired, N7451 ferried to Twin Falls and N7452 to Cody where it was stored pending the planned conversion of a second B-17.
N1340N made its first flight as a Turbo B-17 at Twin Falls on 5.5.70 flown by Ray Elgin. The four RR Dart 510 installation weighed 3,000 lbs less than the Wright Cyclones and gave 30% increased power. After test flying, the FAA approved its commercial use as a tanker with a 400 gallons increase in retardant payload up to 2400 gallons. The increased engine power allowed return flights to base after retardant drops to be flown with the two inboard Darts shut down and props feathered, as a fuel saving measure. The Elgin brothers were enthusiastic about the Turbo B-17, but tragedy struck. On 18.8.70 the Dart B-17 crashed during a fire bombing mission near Dubois, Wyoming. Ray Eglin and copilot John Bastian were killed when the left wing struck trees during the pull up after a retardant drop. The investigation established the Density Altitude at the drop as 13,000 feet, air temperature 90F with strong up and down wind draughts.
The FAA Supplemental Type Certificate for the Turbo B-17 was never completed and no others were converted. The Cody Viscount was sold to dealer Westairnair, Albuquerque NM and the stripped Twin Falls Viscount was still there in 1973.
After the Turbo B-17 accident, John Elgin took over as company President.
Other aircraft registered to Aero Flite Inc at Cody include: Cessna 188 N9891V, Aeronca 7AC N1281E and single-engined Cessnas.

By the late 1970s operations had moved from Cody to Kingman, Arizona
In 1986 the company was taken over by Matt J. Ziomeck and operations boosted with additional fire tanker C-54s.  John Elgin remained in management and as a tanker captain.
FBO operation Kingman Aero Services is an associated business.

After 2000 Aero Flite Inc refinanced and became a significant tanker operator in the new corporate environment, using Canadair CL-215s, turboprop CL-415s and a fleet of BAe146/RJ-85 jet tankers in association with Canadian operator Conair.
The corporate name morphed into "Aero-Flite Inc" but the logo is "Aeroflite Aerial Firefighting".
Corporate office moved from Kingman to Spokane Washington during 2015.


Boeing B-17G/
Coast Guard PB-1G
N9323R
Bu77254
1.64-1975
 B30
  37
purchased 3.1.64 ex Black Hills Aviation SD
sold 12.75 to Kinney Air Tankers MT
Boeing B-17G/
Navy PB-1W
N7228C
Bu77226
3.66-8.67
 B31
purchased 5.3.66 ex Aero Enterprises, Fresno CA
crashed 29.8.67 firebombing near Kalispell MT
Boeing B-17F N1340N
42-6107
1.68-8.70
 A34
purchased 19.1.68 ex Aero Enterprises, Fresno CA ff 5.5.70 with 4 RR Darts as the only Turbo B-17
destroyed 18.8.70 during fire bombing Dubois WY
Douglas C-54
N96358
Bu90397
9.79-7.89
 160
purchased 23.9.79 ex Gerald Wilson
tanked by WAIG Inc, Tucson AZ
tfd 7.89 to Aero Flite Inc, Kingman AZ
Douglas C-54 N96358
44-9058
9.79-1.07
 160
later painted in Douglas DC-4 demonstrator scheme
sold 1.07 to Brooks Air Fuel, Fairbanks AK
Douglas C-54 N82FA
45-507
8.94-2.06
 153
purchased 9.8.94 ex ARDCO, Tucson AZ
sold 2.06 to Brooks Air Fuel, Fairbanks AK
Douglas C-54 N90203
45-481
1997-2013
 163
leased ex Hawkins & Powers
repainted in DC-4 demonstrator scheme
retired at Kingman AZ
Douglas C-54 N3054V
Bu91994
11.01-6.07
 162
purchased ex Aero Union N76AU #26
repainted in DC-4 demonstrator scheme
retired at Kingman AZ
sold to 6.07 to Brooks Air Fuel, Fairbanks AK





        Aero-Flite's remarkable "Turbo B-17" N1340N #A34 after being re-engined with four RR Dart turboprops.        
Photo by Milo Peltzer




Aero Flite C-54 N96358 tanker #160 at Twin Falls ID in October 1992.                     Photo by Geoff Goodall




Aero Insect Control Inc, Cape May County Airport, Rio Grande, New Jersey
Pest control spraying with Boeing Stearmans by 1951. Principal by 1959 was Maurice C. Young.
Three B-25s purchased 1959-60, at least one tanked for fire bombing. Grumman TBM Avenger tanker test aircraft purchased from USFS.
Boeing Stearmans: N1343V, N2535R, N49714, N50139, N5818N, N60723, N9030H, N9052H, N9080H, N9299H, N9301H, N9309H

Grumman TBM N1044
Bu69325
by 1963-1966
 
ex USFS test fire tanker N104Z
B-25 Mitchell N9076Z
44-30772
1959-1964
 06

B-25 Mitchell N9075Z
45-8896
1960-1965

Fire Control Category in 1963 FAA Register
B-25 Mitchell N3514G
44-86786
11.59-6.60






Aero Retardant Inc, Fairbanks Alaska
A tanker company based at Fairbanks in the early 1960s
By 1968 the company was owned by Don G. Gilbertson and James E. Anderson.
Gilbertson also operated the freight and charter airline Pacific Alaska Airlines, Fairbanks using DC-3s and DC-6s

DC-6B N77DG was the first DC-6 type to be certified as a fire bomber. The conversion commenced at Tucson in early 1971, ferried to Long Beach CA in May 1971 for modifications by Aircraft Associates.  Then ferried to Greybull WY with belly openings covered over, for Hawkins & Powers Aviation to install their design retardant tank doors. It began its first USFS contract in 1972 summer based at Chico CA.

- Five DC-3s and nine additional DC-6/C-118s of Pacific Alaska Airlines were registered to Aero Retardant Inc for varying periods. Two DC-6As N444DG & N90782 were leased to Canadian tanker operator Conair for the 1976 budworm forest spraying season in Quebec.
Although some Pacific Alaska DC-6s had cabin tanks installed to carry fuel and oil to remote Alaskan localities, only the three listed below are believed to have been operated as fire tankers by Aero Retardant Inc.
- Lockheed L18 Lodestar N8008 was purchased 17.1.68 by D.G.Gilbertson & J.E.Anderson dba Aero Retardant Inc, Fairbanks AK. Ownership changed 15.7.69 to D.G.Gilbertson dba Aircraft Marketing Inc. Sold 1971.

The DC-6 tankers were operated under the names of Pacific Alaska Airlines and Aero Retardant

B-25 Mitchell N8196H
44-86791
2.63-6.77
  5
tfd 6.77 to Pacific Alaska Airlines
tfd 8.79 to Don Gilbertson, flown as warbird
sold 6.82 to Australia, became VH-XXV
B-25 Mitchell N8163H
44-86747
4.67-2.74
  7
tfd 2.74 to Pacific Alaska Airlines
sold 2.77 to N,M.Wien, Anchorage as warbird
Douglas DC-6B N66DG

12.71-1980
  52
  D2
tfd .73 to Pacific Alaska Airlines
sold 1980 to B&D Aircraft Inc, Chino CA,
retired at Chino CA 1980, broken up 1987
Douglas DC-6B N77DG

3.71-12.75
  D1
tfd 1.73 to Pacific Alaska Airlines
crashed on takeoff Fairbanks 17.2.75
Douglas DC-6 N222DG

3.71-1976
  16
tfd 1.73 to Pacific Alaska Airlines
retired Paine Field WA 1976, stripped, sold





Former Aero Retardant Douglas DC-6B N66DG tanker #D2, retired at Chino CA in September 1981
Photo by Geoff Goodall


Aero Spray Inc, Vancouver, Washington
Agricultural spraying operation for the fruit orchards of the Yakima Valley. Two TB-25N Mitchells were purchased from USAF disposals and fitted with 1,000 gallon liquid tanks for fire bombing. The first completed was N9866C in May 1959 and operated for the 1959 fire season by Richardson's Airway. The company's entry into fire bombing seems to have ended in 1960 when both B-25 tankers were sold.

B-25 Mitchell
N9865C
44-28833
10.58-10.60
 
Purchased ex USAF disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ. Registered 1.10.58 to Aero Spray Inc.
converted 5.60 to fire tanker
sold 10.60 to Western Air Industries, Redding CA
B-25 Mitchell N9866C
44-28833
10.58-9.60
 
Purchased ex USAF disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ. Registered 1.10.58 to Aero Spray Inc.
converted 5.59 to fire tanker
operated 1959 season by Richardson's Airway
sold 9.60 to Red Dodge Inc, Anchorage AK





Aero Union Corp, Chico, California
The largest US fire bomber operator, Aero Union was a leader in introducing new aircraft types and improved retardant tank and delivery system designs. The company also bid for US Forestry Service contracts for support work such as transporting fire fighters and equipment.
Founded in 1959 by Richard E. Foy and Dale P. Newton under the original name Western Air Industries, Anderson California.
Their first season used a B-25 tanker based at nearby Redding Airport CA. In 1961 the name was changed to Aero Union Corporation and the first two B-17 Fortress tankers were purchased. 
During 1962 Aero Union moved its base to Chico Municiple Airport where it built up a major maintenance and engineering facility in the former air force hangars. Dale Newton was President, Dick Foy was Vice President and during the 1970-80s another experienced tanker man Roy D Reagan held a management position. Dick Foy left AU in 1989 to continue as Captain and Operations Manager of AU's Mini Guppy N422AU when it was sold to Jack Erickson as a freighter.

AU made a bold move in the late 1960s with the bulk purchase of ten Fairchild C-119C Flying Boxcars from USAF disposals at Davis Monthan AFB AZ to be its next generation heavy tankers. Included in the deal was a large stock of engines and spare parts stored in a hangar at Coolidge AZ. Five C-119Cs were ferried to Chico to be modified to tankers and five left in storage at Tucson to be stripped for parts as required.  In 1974, with Douglas C-54s becoming available from military disposals, AU sold its C-119C tankers to Hemet Valley Flying Service, the sale including all spares inventory which included the five spare aircraft in Tucson.

AU retired its Grumman Avengers and Guardians at the end of the 1973 season when USFS dropped contracts for single-engined aircraft due to high accident rates.  The introduction of Douglas C-54s and DC-6s as fire bombers allowed AU to find freight work outside the summer fire season. They were used for general cargo work as well as contracts to support fire operations. Aero Union's engineering experience on large prop transports resulted in AU-designed tanks being fitted to other operator's aircraft and AU carrying out civil conversions and modifications at Chico on a variety of heavy aircraft. A number of additional C-54s were acquired either to be stripped for parts or resale.

A 2004 report stated Aero Union Corp had 240 employees.
Aero Union Corp abruptly ceased operations in May 2011 when USFS cancelled the current $30M contract for 6 P-3 Orion AU Aerostar tankers, citing safety concerns. AU had recently been taken over by new management following lengthy legal disputes and Federal court actions over ownership of ex-military P-3s and C-130s acquired under a USFS aircraft exchange scheme. This has since become known as the USFS Air Tanker Scandal and resulted in Roy D. Reagan and an USFS official being jailed. The Government, through USFS, resumed ownership of a number of involved P-3s and C-130s from tanker companies, including Aero Union.

Between 1979-1982 AU acquired nine former US Navy Douglas C-117Ds from military surplus sales at Davis Monthan AFB Arizona. This was reported to have been an exchange program with the USAF Museum in return for retired AU aircraft which were restored for static display in original military markings and delivered to USAF base museums around the  country.  Most C-117Ds were ferried to Chico for civil conversion and resale as freighters, although the last three were left in storage in civil contractor's yards at Davis Monthan, stripped of engines and parts.  The civilianised C-117Ds may have been used by AU on USFS support work prior to their resale.
C-117Ds: N1037A, N5597T, N5597V, N5598B, N5584N, Bu17160, Bu17287. Also civil Super DC-3S N567M.

The freight business was expanded to handle outsize cargo with the purchase of an ATL-98 Carvair and Aero Spacelines Mini Guppy:
- Air Traders ATL-98 Carvair N55243 (c/n 17 ex Sfair F-BVEF) purchased 26.11.79, ferried from France to Chico. Leased 4.81 to Kodiak Western Airlines for fish hauling. Returned to Chico by 10.81. Flown by AU on cargo charters, seen at Montreal Quebec 11.6.82 and Burbank CA 17.7.82 carrrying cars to Mexico.  Sold 5.8.83 to Pacific Air Express, Honolulu.
- Aero Spacelines Boeing 377MG Mini Guppy N422AU: purchased 5.81 ex N422AJ. Rereg N422AU 11.81.
seen at Paris-Le Bourget 15.6.81 carrying Super Guppy sections; departed Aberdeen Scotland 18.12.84 carrying Chinook helicopter;
seen Toronto Ontario 8.3.85 carrying CP Air DC-10 damaged wing sections; seen Cincinatti OH 3.85;
sold 5.89 to Erickson Air Crane OR

Other aircraft:
- Douglas DC-3 N19930  (1964-1965)
- Lockheed PV-1 Howard Super Ventura N183PL  (purchased 2.74, retired Chico by 78, sold 2001
- T-6 Texan N373N  (1968-1975)
- Piasecki H-21C Workhorse: traded to USAF Museum, moved by road 20.12.89 from Chico to McClellan AFB CA
- Boeing 727-23 N1997 purchased 28.4.94 ex American Airlines, broken-up at Mojave CA in 1995
- Champion 7AC N1669E, PA-22 Tri-Pacer N2834P, PA-32 Cheroke Six N4122W, Cessna 206 N5175U, Cessna 182 N2822Y

- Dale P. Newton, Meford, Oregon was registered owner of Grumman FM-2 Wildcat N4845V from at least 1960 until sold in 1975. Possibly connected with Medford Air Service which operated Wildcat for agricultural spraying with underwing tanks
- Dale P. Newton, Chico CA purchased Navy N3N N45084 at the 1981 auction of Charlie T. Jenson's aircraft at the same time the TBM N3966A was purchased by Aero Union.  The N3N was stored at Sacramento and had been tanker #11 with Jenson's company Nevadair.
Registered to Newton 10.6.81 until cancelled 29.11.12, by which time Newton's address had changed from Chico to Talent Oregon.
The N3N was stored in Aero Union hangar at Chico in 1990.
- Roy D. Reagan, Chico: Beech D17S N9459H restoration project, reg. 19.9.85 to Reagan, traded to US Navy Air Museum, displayed on hangar deck of aircraft carrier USS Yorktown  by 1987, later displayed at the main museum at Pensacola FL.
- From 1981 operated as Reagan Enterprises Inc, Chico CA: acquired C-117Ds and C-118s from USAF disposals for commercial resale


B-25 Mitchell
N9865C 44-28834
10.60-2.63
 E30
purchased ex Aero Spray,Vancouver WA tanked
sold 2.63 to Clayton Curtiss, Boise ID
B-17G Fortress N9323Z 44-83514
11.60-1.78
  E17
  C17
  17 
purchased 11.60 ex Acme Aircraft Parts CA
tanked .60 at Redding CA
rest. 77 Chico to military as USAAF Class of 44
sold 1.78 to Confederate Air Force TX
B-17G Fortress N9324Z
44-83542
11.60-7.71
  E16
  C18
  E18
purchased 11.60 ex Acme Aircraft Parts CA
tanked 10.61
crashed 12.7.71 forced landing gear-up Benson AZ
B-17G/ PB-1W N5230V
Bu77244
9.61-1979
  C19
  E19
  19
purchased 27.9.61 ex Marson Equipment AZ
ferried from AZ in USN blue  "XD-10",
traded .79 to USAF Museum
delivered .80 from Chico to Barksdale AFB LA
B-17G/ PB-1W N5233V Bu77231
9.61-1.62
   -
purchased 27.9.61 ex Marson Equipment AZ
ferried from AZ in USN blue "TE",
not tanked,
sold 1.62 to Rogue Flying Services OR
B-17G/ PB-1W N5237V
Bu77233
9.61-12.61
   -
purchased 27.9.61 ex Marson Equipment AZ
ferried from AZ in USN blue "XD-2",
not tanked, sold 12.61 to Calvin Butler OR
B-17G Fortress N3509G
44-85778
4.66-6.72
  E16
  16
purchased ex Leo Demers, Madras OR #97
sold 6.72 to Central Air Service, Rantoul KS
B-17G/ PB-1W N5233V
Bu77231 6.71 to 6.75
  D1
  18
purchased ex Idaho Aircraft Corp, tanked
traded .75 to USAF Museum
delivered 6.75 from Chico to Eglin AFB FL
B-17G Fortress
N3702G
43-38635
11.79
   -
purchased 1.11.79 ex TBM Inc #61
traded 11.79 to USAF Museum
del. 26.11.79 Chico to Castle AFB CA
Grumman AF-2W
Guardian
N3143G
Bu123088
6.62-2004
   -
purchased 6.62
tanked at Chico but installation unsatisfactory,
not used operationally for fire bombing;
stored Chico in original USN markings;
sold 2004 as a warbird
Grumman AF-2W

N3144G
Bu123100
1962-1983
  E30 retired Chico at end of 1973 fire season,
made airworthy 74-75 at Chico as blue US Navy "123100/SK-30" for potential sale as a warbird,
visited Confederate Air Force TX in 10.78,
not sold, retired at Chico; 
traded 83 to US Navy Museum, NAS Pensacola FL
Grumman AF-2S

N9993Z
Bu126731
by 1966-8.88
   -
not tanked, stored Chico original USN blue scheme,
stripped for parts
sold 8.88 to Confederate Air Force TX
Grumman AF-2S

N9994Z
Bu129233
by 1966-1991
   -
not tanked, stored Chico original USN blue scheme,
stripped for parts,
traded .91 to Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson AZ where displayed as tanker "N9995Z #E21"
Grumman AF-2S

N9995Z
Bu126792
by 1966-1983
  E21
retired Chico at end of 1973 fire season,
donated c83 to EAA Foundation, Oshkosh WI
Grumman TBM
Avenger
N9596C Bu69361
1963-1965
  E19
purchased ex P&B Aviation, Oroville CA #E19
sold .65 to Air Tankers Inc WY
Grumman TBM N7239C Bu91450
by 1966-1971

purchased ex Riverside Aircraft Co, Riverside CA
sold .71 to David C.Tallichet/Yesterdays Air Force
Grumman TBM N9083Z Bu53492
7.66-8.73
  E28
purchased ex Riverside Aircraft Co CA #E63
gear-up landing 7.11.67 Red Bluff CA
crashed 2.8.73 Chester CA, mid-air collision with USFS fire controller Cessna 310 N135Z
Grumman TBM N5260V Bu91726
by 1966-1971

purchased ex Riverside Aircraft Co CA #E65
sold c71 to Capitol Aire Inc, Carson City NV
Grumman TBM N1366N Bu85594
Leased 1973
  E60
leased 1973 season ex TBM Inc, Tulare CA #E60
crashed 18.8.73 on takeoff Placeville CA
Grumman TBM N3966A Bu53319
.80-1987
   -
purchased ex Charlie T. Jensen/Nevadair, no civil conversion, stored at Sacramento CA 1958-1980; 
ferried to Chico .81, stored
Sold 5.87 to Anthony Haig-Thomas, UK
ferried 5.87 to Grass Valley CA for restoration to military config., delivered 10.88 to Long Beach CA for shipping to Britain
Douglas A-26
Invader
N91281 44-39359
by 1966-3.70

sold 3.70 to Conair, Canada as CF-BMR
Douglas A-26
N8395H
44-34607
c1969-3.71

purchased ex Stahmann Farms, Las Cruces NM
stored in USAF markings Tucson 1958-68
civil conversion and tanked at Chico
sold 3.71 to Conair, Canada as CF-FBV
Douglas A-26 N6838D
44-35440
12.70-6.71

Rock Island Consort 26 executive conversion
sold 6.71 to Conair, Canada as CF-MSB
Douglas A-26
N4820E (1
44-35217
1972
  C29
leased from Flight Enterprises Inc, Prescott AZ
sold 1.73 to Canada
Douglas A-26 N4820E (2
44-34738
4.74-11.74
  A13
On Mark Marketeer executive conversion
sold 11.74 to Air Spray, Canada as C-GWLU
Douglas A-26 N8026E
44-35323
.69-5.70
  C55 purchased ex Aero Flight, Troutdale OR #C55
leased 5.70 to Conair, Canada as CF-CDD
returned .72 to AU as #C55
sold c74 to Bill Dempsay/Central Air Service
Douglas A-26 N91356 44-34344
12.70-1974

purchased as crash wreck ex Ames Applicator IA
wreck stored Ames IA as parts source
sold .74 to Canada as part of tanker A-26 sale
Fairchild C-119C
Flying Boxcar
N13742 49-194
by 1969-1974

sold .74 to Hemet Valley Flying Service, Hemet CA
Fairchild C-119C N13743
49-132
by 1969-3.75
  E12
sold .3.75 to Hemet Valley Flying Service
Fairchild C-119C N13744
49-199
by 1969-1974
  13
sold .74 to Hemet Valley Flying Service
Fairchild C-119C N13745
48-322
by 1969-3.75
  C14
sold 3.75 to Hemet Valley Flying Service
Fairchild C-119C N13746
48-352
by 1969-1974

sold .74 to Hemet Valley Flying Service





During 1971-72 AU installed tanks in C-119Gs N383S, N8832, N961S at Chico for Hawkins & Powers Aviation, Greybull WY
Douglas C-54
N62295
Bu50851 12.74-2005

purchased 5.12.74 ex US Navy disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
no civil conversion, stripped for parts Chico by 77
derelict Chico "US Navy 50851", scrapped 2005
Douglas C-54
N62296 Bu91994
11.74-1.76
  76
purchased 25.11.74 ex US Navy disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
rereg 1.76 N76AU for US Bicentenary paint scheme
Douglas C-54
N76AU
Bu91994
1.76-11.01
  76
  18
  16
  26
ex N62296; N76AU #76 Spirit of America 76
retired as tanker at Chico 1990
painted olive drab USAAF Santa Monica Maid
Sold 11.01 to Aero Flite Inc AZ as N3054V
Douglas C-54 N62297
Bu90402
11.74-12.05
  14
purchased 25.11.74 ex US Navy disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
Upgraded 2001 from 8 door tank new12 door system
Sold 12.05 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-GBAJ
Douglas C-54 N62342
Bu56497
12.74-12.05
  13
purchased 13.12.74 ex US Navy disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
Sold 12.05 to Buffalo Airways as C-GBAK
Douglas C-54 N65397
42-72539
3.76-8.79
  15
purchased 9.3.76 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
Sold 8.79 to Aero Trades Western as C-GCXG
Douglas C-54 N3303F
45-535
4.76-5.81   13
  18
  16
Purchased 4.76 ex Dross Metals, Tucson AZ
sold 5.81 to Conifair, Canada as C-GBNV
Douglas C-54 N67109
Bu50855
8.78-4.90
  17
crashed landing Chico 30.4.90 during training flight, destroyed by fire, 2k
Douglas C-54 N11712
41-37297
2.77-3.00
  02
Sold 3.00 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-FBAJ
Douglas C-54 N2742G
45-636
6.82-12.05
  15
Purchased .82 at sheriff auction of seized aircraft
Sold 12.05 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-FBAP
Douglas C-54 N4218S
45-635
4.81-8.88
  18
Purchased 4.81 ex C-FIQM, tanked at Chico
leased to Ken Borek Air, Canada 1985-88
Sold 8.88 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-FIQM
Douglas C-54
N4989P
45-629
3.79-6.95
  19
Acquired via USAF Museum, registered 3.79 AU,
crashed 21.6.95 Ramona CA after collision in  circuit with USFS Beech Baron N156Z
Douglas C-54 N3373F
45-608
11.77-7.81
  19
Purchased 11.77 ex Dross Metals, Tucson AZ
leased 81 to Air Distribution, Honolulu as freighter
based Alaska 7.81 for fish hauling contract
crashed 14.7.81 near Kenai AK after left wing separated due engine fire, 3k
Douglas C-54 N51819 44-9055
1.78-7.79
  17
purchased 23.1.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 7.79 to Joe Cooper
Douglas C-54 N4994H
42-72548
9.78-4.02
  12
purchased 30.9.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ,  stored Chico,
CofA 18.5.82
sold 4.02 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-FBAA
Douglas C-54 N90201
42-72723
11.78-1.82
    -
purchased 7.11.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ,
stored Chico ex USAF mkgs,
sold 1.82 to Hona Caribbean Cargo, Grand Cayman
Douglas C-54 N9020R 42-72722
11.78-11.80
    -
purchased 7.11.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ, CofA 17.10.79,
sold 11.80 to Tuky Air Transport, Puerto Rico
Douglas C-54
N4989K 44-9093
8.78-3.79
    -
purchased 14.8.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ,
stored Chico 10.78 ex USAF markings,
sold 3.3.79 to James J. Reid
Douglas C-54 N90203
45-481
11.78-7.79
    -
purchased 4.11.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ, stored Chico
sold 18.7.79 to North Star Sales
Douglas C-54 N9020N
42-72716
11.78-11.80
    -
purchased 7.11.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 2.5.79 to WMS Corp
Douglas C-54 N4994D
45-517
11.78-10.79
    -
purchased 7.11.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ
impounded at Clayton AL, sold 2.10.79 at auction to Hayes International, Dothan AL
Douglas C-54 N4994G
42-72709
9.78-10.79
    -
purchased 30.9.78 ex USAF disposals at
Davis Monthan AFB AZ, stored Tucson AZ
sold 10.79 I. N. Junior Burchinal, Paris TX
Douglas C-54 N4989N
45-596
3.79-4.82
    -
purchased 3.79 ex USAF Museum, stored Chico
sold 4.82 to Conifair, Canada as C-GBSK
Douglas C-54
N4958M
45-556 12.79-3.06
    -
Acquired via USAF Museum ex NASA N427NA, registered 2.80 AU, stored Chico
Sold 3.06 to Buffalo Airways, Canada as C-FBAM
Douglas C-54 N4958P
45-637
10.79-6.81
    -
Acquired via USAF Museum ex NASA N432NA, registered 1.80 AU,
stored Tucson AZ in NASA scheme 1980,
sold 6.81 to Conifair, Canada as C-GXKN
Douglas C-54
N708Z
45-614
3.84-3.86
    -
purchased 30.3.84 ex Rogmar Enterprises
sold 20.3.86 to Sitka Sound Seafoods Inc AK
Douglas C-54
N27MA
Bu50874
6.85-1.90
    -
purchased 3.6.85 ex Henry Oliver, Santa Fe NM,
stored stripped Chico
traded to USAF Museum for display McClellan, rest. as olive drab USAAF "272449",
delivered 23.1.90 Chico to McClellan AFB CA
Douglas C-54
N708Z
45-614
9.89-4.90
    -
repurchased 30.9.89 ex Sitka Sound Seafoods AK
sold 17.4.90 to Florida Aircraft Leasing Corp
Douglas DC-6B
N37574
44898
c74-4.76
  16
ex United Airlines, purchased c74
tanked by AU, based Stockton 76 as tanker #16
sold 4.76 to Sis-Q Flying Services, Santa Rosa CA
Douglas C-118A
N118RR
51-17639
1976-1977
    -
Leased ex Roy Reagan, Chico CA
noted at Chico 8.76 ex USAF scheme
Included in AU company fleet list 1.77
sold 8.79 to Unlimited Leasing, Miami FL.
arrived Miami on delivery 6.8.79
Douglas DC-6B N6583C
45219
10.81-2.82
    -
purchased 10.81 ex EG&G Inc, Las Vegas
passenger seating
visited Burbank CA 10.1.82 on a charter
sold 2.82 to Sis-Q Flying Services, Santa Rosa CA
Douglas DC-6B N6587C
45379
10.81-6.82
    -
purchased 10.81 ex EG&G Inc, Las Vegas
advertised for sale by AU 4.82 as 98 passenger seating or cargo,
sold 6.82 to Aerolaska Inc, Fairbanks AK
Douglas C-118A
N204GB
53-3292
3.83-7.84
    -
purchased 8.3.83 ex Desert Air Parts, Tucson AZ
sold 7.84 to Northern Air Cargo
Douglas DC-7B
N842D
45448
.75-6.76
    -
purchased .75 ex Hemet Valley Flying Service, traded on the C-119Cs
parked Stockton CA 74 planned to be tanked by AU for HVFS but not tanked
stored at Chico by 3.76
sold 16.6.76 to La Grande Air Services, Oregon
stayed at Chico, stripped for parts, derelict by 8.88
Douglas DC-7B
N401US
45145
.75-3.76
    97
purchased .75 ex Hemet Valley Flying Service #97, traded to AU on C-119Cs,
had been tanked by AU for HVFS
sold 25.3.76 to Butler Aircraft Co, Oregon
Douglas DC-7C
N90802
45112
.74-12.76
   15
purchased .74 ex ex Jolly Voyager Travel Club
tanked by AU at Chico
sold 12.76 to La Grande Air Services, Oregon
Lockheed SP-2H Neptune N4602X
Bu147966
1.84-1987
    -
Registration reserved 13.1.84 AU
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold c87 to South Georgia Tech College, ferried to
Americus GA to become an instructional airframe
SP-2H Neptune
Firestar
N716AU
Bu140963
4.86-2007
   16
purchased 2.4.86 as N142DP ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 N702AU, rereg 12.88 N90YY,
rereg 4.89 as Firestar N716AU, retired Chico by 00
loan to Chico Air Museum by 2004,
sold 10.07 to Bravo Airlines, Opa Locka FL
broken-up for scrap at Chico 1.10
SP-2H Neptune
Firestar
N701AU
Bu145920
4.86-2007
   01
Registered N920AU 3.4.86 AU
modified at Chico as prototype Aero Union Firestar
rereg 9.86 as Firestar N701AU,
retired Chico by 00
sold 10.07 to Bravo Airlines, Opa Locka FL
broken-up for scrap at Chico 1.10
SP-2H Neptune N9AU
Bu135596
7.86-4.00
   -
Registered N9AU 1.7.86 AU
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services, MT
remained in storage yard, USN markings
SP-2H Neptune
Firestar
N703AU
Bu147967
11.86-2.00
   03
purchased 3.11.86 as N967LH ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 as Firestar N703AU,
sold 2.00 to Heliworks Ltds, Chile as CC-CHU
departed Chico 2.00 on delivery to Chile
SP-2H Neptune
Firestar
N718AU
Bu147964
11.86-2007
   18
purchased 3.11.86 as N964LH ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 6.87 as Firestar N718AU, retired Chico by 00
sold 10.07 to Bravo Airlines, Opa Locka FL
SP-2H Neptune N713AU
Bu145903
11.86-2004
    -
purchased 3.11.86 as N903LH ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 N703AU, but no civil conversion
stored Chico as USN "145903/LZ PL-3",
broken-up for scrap at Chino c04
SP-2H Neptune N717AU
Bu147959
11.86-4.00
    -
purchased 3.11.86 as N959LH ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 N717AU, but no civil conversion
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services MT
remained in storage yard, US Navy markings
SP-2H Neptune N702AU
Bu147968
11.86-2004
    -
purchased 3.11.86 as N968L ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 as N716AU, rereg 2.89 as N702AU,
but no civil conversion
stored Chico as USN "147968/LZ PL-6",
broken-up for scrap at Chino c04
SP-2H Neptune N714AU
Bu148339
11.86-4.00
    -
purchased 3.11.86 as N339L ex Allied Aircraft Sales, Tucson AZ
rereg 8.87 as N714AU but no civil conversion
stored Chico as "USN 148339/LZ"
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services, MT
made airworthy at Chico, ferried to Alamogordo NM
SP-2H Neptune N715AU
Bu148343
7.87-4.00
    -
purchased 7.87 as N343RR ex University of Nevada
rereg 6.88 as N715AU but no civil conversion
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services MT
remained in storage yard, US Navy markings
SP-2H Neptune N719AU
Bu150281
7.87-4.00
    -
purchased 7.87 as N281RR ex University of Nevada
rereg 6.88 as N719AU but no civil conversion
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services MT
remained in storage yard, US Navy markings
SP-2H Neptune N712AU
Bu150281
7.87-4.00
    -
purchased 7.87 as N283RR ex University of Nevada
rereg 6.88 as N712AU but no civil conversion
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
sold 11.4.00 to Neptune Aviation Services MT
remained in storage yard, US Navy markings,
became Neptune Aviation Services tanker N442NA
SP-2H Neptune N720AU
Bu145917
7.87-1998
    -
registered 20.7.87 as N720AU AU
stored in contractor's yard Davis Monthan AFB AZ
struck-off Civil Register 25.6.98
airframe "US Navy LZ14" still in yard 2007
SP-2H/B-69 Neptune N980AP
Bu140980
9.94-2004
    -
purchased 15.9.94 ex North America Warbirds Museum, PA, stored Chico in USN markings
broken-up for scrap at Chino c04 
Lockheed P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N900AU
Bu151391
10.89-2013
   00
registered 12.10.89 as N180AU,
rereg 4.90 N406TP for flight trials of GM Allison T406 turboprops, marked "GM-00";
rebuilt Chico 1991-92 as Aerostar tanker N900AU
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N922AU
Bu151387
10.89-2013
   22
registered 3.10.89 as N181AU, rereg 7.93 N922AU
rebuilt Chico 1992-93 as Aerostar tanker
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
resold 3.14 to Buffalo Airways, Canada
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N923AU
Bu151372
10.89-2013
   23
registered 3.10.89 N185AU,  rereg 11.91 N923AU 
rebuilt Chico as Aerostar tanker
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N927AU
Bu151369
10.89-2013
   27
registered 3.10.89 as N182AU, rereg 3.90 N927AU
rebuilt Chico as Aerostar tanker
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N925AU
Bu151361
10.89-2013
   25
registered 3.10.89 as N183AU, rereg 3.90 N925AU
rebuilt Chico 1991 as Aerostar tanker
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N924AU
Bu151359
12.89-10.91
   24
registered 12.89 as N184AU, rereg 10.90 N924AU
rebuilt Chico as Aerostar tanker
crashed 16.10.91 on travel flight near Missoula MT
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N921AU
Bu151385
12.89-2013
   21
purchased by AU, stored Chico 90-91
rebuilt Chico 1992 as Aerostar tanker
registered 18.5.92 N921AU USFS,
ownership tfd to AU 12.3.97
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N920AU
Bu150513
Spanish P.3-6
2001-2013
   20
registered 19.6.01 as N920AU AU,
purchased ex Abilene Technical College TX
previously Spanish Air Force P.3-6 code 22-25;
rebuilt at Chico 2001 as Aerostar tanker
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion
Aerostar
N926AU
Bu152731
2.97-4.05
   26
registered 10.2.97 as N926AU AU,
rebuild completed Chico .99 as Aerostar tanker
crashed 20.4.05 near Chico during pilot check flight
P-3A Orion
N917AU
Bu150510
Spanish P.3-5
2004-2013
    -
registered 1.10.04 as N917AU AU,
purchased ex Hawkins & Powers Aviation, WY
previously Spanish Air Force P.3-5 code 22-24;
stored Chico in Spanish markings
sold 17.11.13 to United Aeronautical Corp, CA
P-3A Orion      -
Bu151355 1990s
    -
no civil conversion. stored Chico USN markings
P-3A Orion      -
Bu151377 1990s
    -
no civil conversion. stored Chico USN markings
P-3AM Orion      -
Bu152186
Brazil 7202
2005-2009
    -
purchased c2005 by AU ex Davis Monthan AFB, formerly FA Brasileira 7202,
rebuild Chico 2007 to Aerostar, not completed





The beginning. Aero Union's very first tanker was TB-25N Mitchell N9865C, seen at Redding CA in 1962.
Photo by Richard Stratton via Ron Olsen collection




B-17G N5230V #19 at Porterville CA in September 1977 with fibreglass nose cone.    Photo by Geoff Goodall




Grumman TBM Avenger N9083Z #28 at Chico CA in September 1971.                    Photo by Gordon Reid




Grumman AF-2S Guardian #E21 at Chico in June 1973.                                             Photo by Gordon Reid      
   



Douglas A-26 Invader N4820E #C29 at Chico CA in March 1972.                 Photo by Gordon Reid




Aero Union Fairchild C-119C #13 deployed to Boise ID in June 1974.          Photo by Gordon Reid




Press picture of Aero Union C-119C tanker #12 in action




Aero Union C-54 N62342 with AU belly tank at Fresno CA in September 1977.      Photo by Geoff Goodall




N62342 in 1980s Aero Union C-54 scheme, Lancaster-Fox Field CA August 1989.    Photo by Geoff Goodall




ATL-98 Carvair N55243 at Anchorage in September 1981 while operated for Kodiak Western Airlines on the
the annual fish air freight season.                                                                       Photo by Geoff Goodall





N718AUwas an Aero Union "Firestar"tanker conversion of an ex US Navy Lockheed SP-2H Neptune.
Seen at Aero Union Corp's home base Chico CA in October 1992.             Photo by Geoff Goodall




Former US Navy Lockheed P-3A Orion N925AU was one of nine rebuilt by Aero Union as "Aerostar" tankers
         Seen at Chico in October 1992.                                                    Photo by Geoff Goodall




Air Tankers Inc, Seattle, Washington
Air Tankers Inc, 6900 Airport Way, Seattle WA  

PBY-6A Catalina
N2846D
Bu64017
1963-1964
  E87
purchased .63 ex Jaydon Enterprises CA #E87
sold .64 to Richard Gross, Yreka CA




Air Tankers Inc, Newcastle Wyoming / Casper Wyoming / Maricopa Arizona / Buckeye Arizona
Air Tankers Inc, P.O.Box 246 Newcastle WY (1963-1966 USCRs)
Air Tankers Inc, Hangar 1, Casper WY            (1963-1969 USCRs)
Air Tankers Inc, Maricopa AZ                          (1977 USCR)
Air Tankers Inc, Buckeye AZ                           (1977 USCR)
This operation was a partnership between George H. Stell and Sergio A. Tomassoni who also operated as SS&T Aerial Contractors, Phoenix AZ.   Air Tankers Inc appears to have taken over the tanker business of Seeley Flying Service, Newcastle WY & Casper WY.
In 1976 Tomassoni merged with other tanker operators to form a new business T & G Inc (Tomassoni & Grantham) based at Chandler Memorial Airfield, Phoenix.
Other aircraft:
- Cessna 182 N8924X Air Tankers Inc, Casper WY

Grumman TBM Avenger N7027C
Bu53915
1.64-8.64

purchased 24.1.64 ex Seeley Flying Service WY
crashed 29.8.64 fire bombing Casper WY
Grumman TBM
N6823C
Bu85636
1.65-5.67
 
purchased 5.1.65 ex Wen Inc, CA #E45
crashed 23.5.67 Upton WY while spraying
Grumman TBM
N9559C
6728
12.63-5.71

purchased 31.12.63 ex Plains Aero Service TX
crashed 20.5.71 Mapleton IA: pilot's parachute deployed, covered tail control surfaces, while on ferry from Casper WY to New Brunswick, Canada for forest spraying contract
Grumman TBM N9596C
Bu69361
c1965-12.72
 B16
purchased c65 ex Aero Union Corp CA
sold 27.12.72 to Firetankers Inc, Casper WY
Grumman TBM N7002C
Bu85632
c1965-5.74
 B15
purchased c65 ex Plains Aero Service TX
sold 5.74 to Norfolk Aerial Spraying as C-GOBJ
Grumman TBM N10361
Bu53768
c1965-5.75
 B18
purchased ex Seeley Flying Svce, Newcastle WY
sold 5.75 to Norfolk Aerial Spraying as C-GLDX
Grumman TBM N17930
Bu69531
c1971-1.73
 B19
purchased ex Seeley Flying Svce, Newcastle WY
sold 11.1.73 to Firetankers Inc, Casper WY
Consolidated
PB4Y-2 Privateer
N3739G
Bu59819
c1972-1977
 C30
tfd ex SS&T Aerial Contractors, Phoenix AZ
tfd 1977 to T&G Inc, Chandler AZ
Douglas DC-7B
N51701
44701
7.73-1977
  C01
  31
purchased 12.7.73 ex Maricopa Dust & Spray AZ
tfd 1977 to T&G Inc. USCR date 29.4.80
Douglas DC-7B
N4887C
45351
c1974-1977
  33
purchased ex Suns Travel Club
tfd 1977 to T&G Inc, Chandler AZ
Douglas DC-7B
N1097
45342
c1974-1977
  32
purchased ex Search Aviation
tfd 1977 to T&G Inc, Chandler AZ





Sergio Tomassoni's Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer N3739G #C30 at Chandler AZ in November 1981 after
the company restructure as T&G Inc.                                                             Photo by Geoff Goodall


Airborne Fire Attack, Orange County Airport, California
Formed by John Wells in 1995 as a division of his company Wells Aviation, Hood River, Oregon.
The business was a specialised water bombing operation to compete with the normal chemical retardant tankers.
Retired Canadian water bombing Catalinas were avialable, equipped to scoop 1400 gallons of water during low pick-up runs across lakes. Two were acquired from Canada and after US certification were painted bright red with the slogan California Water Bomber.  The first aircraft was lost in August 1997 when it crashed and sank during a water pick-up on a reservoir while fighting a fire in southern California, John Wells and his copilot being injured. It was replaced by the second Catalina which only flew one more summer before being withdrawn and sold as a warbird.

A 1989 USFS tanker list shows tanker number #116 was allocated to Airborne Fire Attack for  Grumman HU-16T Turbine Albatross. The only contender was HU-16E N70263 (c/n G-309) which was being rebuilt in 1995-1996 at Mesa AZ by Marsh Aviation with Garrett turbines as as a turboprop water bomber for an undisclosed buyer. Not completed and the partially converted aircraft was abandoned in the open at Mesa.

OA-10A Catalina
N322FA
44-34049
6.96-8.97
 115
purchased 7.6.96 ex C-FGLX tanker #792
crashed sank 1.8.97 San Vincente Reservoir CA
PBY-6A Catalina
N324FA
Bu64097
10.97-5.99
 115
purchased 10.97 ex C-FPIU #797
sold 20.5.99 to Commemorative Air Force TX





Catalina N322FA at the Ramona CA air tanker base in 1996.                            Photo by Graham Robson




John Wells takes off from Lake Wohlford CA in October 1996.                            Photo by Graham Robson




What might have been. The uncompleted Garrett turboprop Grumman HU-16E Albatross N70263
still stored at Marsh Aviation, Mesa AZ in 2012, showing the turbine engine mounts




Aircraft Service Co, Boise, Idaho
Owner and chief pilot Glen Higby modified a crop spraying Ford Trimotor N8407 as a fire bomber in 1955. Two 275 gallon tanks in tandem each with 9”x 20” bomb doors were installed, to carry a mixture of water and Sodium Calcite-borate, a maximum payload of 5500 lbs. Cables to the cockpit allowed the release of one or both tanks. Flight testing showed the Ford could lay a swath of retardant in a 70ft x 700ft area. In 1957, Higby made 74 drops on severe fires in the Payette and Boise National Forests in a Ford and is credited with bringing one of the fires under ciontrol.
The company had a second Ford N9612 which was also modified for fire bombing by 1957 with three 100 gallon tanks. It was flown by William Hadden on fires in Montana and Idaho. It was sold to Johnson Flying Service at Missoula MT who did trial water drops on 8 August 1957 before USFS dispatched it to eight fires that month.
Aircraft Service Co was still in business at Bradley Field, Boise by 1954.

Ford 4-AT-E
N8407
69 7.55-5.58

purchased 1.7.55 ex David Callender, Eagle ID as crop sprayer, converted to fire bomber 55
sold 22.5.58 to Johnson Flying Service MT
Ford 4-AT-E
N9612
55
1956-1957

reportedly conv. to fire bomber
sold .57 to Johnson Flying Service MT which used it as a fire bomber 8.57





Ford Tri-Motor N9612 dropping retandant circa 1957                                                          Photo: USFS



Aircraft Specialties Inc, Mesa Arizona
Aircraft Specialties Inc, 4600 East McKillops Road, Mesa AZ, later 2410 Airline Way, Falcon Field, Mesa, Phoenix AZ
Founded c1960 by Richard E. (Gene) Packard as a tanker operator based at Mesa-Falcon Field, Phoenix AZ

An associated spraying company at Mesa in the early 1960s was Desert Aviation Service, 2410 Airline Way, Mesa: appears to have merged with Aircraft Specialties Inc circa 1965 and shared the same postal address.
1963 USFS list of fire bomber contractors: Aircraft Specialties Inc, Prescott AZ, Willcox AZ & Beckwourth CA.
Merged 1963 with A.B. Sellards trading as Abe's Aerial Service, Stafford AZ. A new parent company was formed with name
Aviation Specialties Inc under the joint management of Gene Packard and Abe Sellards. Spraying and firebombing operations continued
under the name Aircraft Specialties.
During 1976 Aircraft Specialities reported that spraying fleet was deployed that year on large-scale contracts for budworm forest spraying in Maine and Georgia.

By 1977 some of company business, including B-17 fire bombers, wa conducted under the name of associated company Globe Air Inc. Effective April 1981 a business reorganisation resulted in all operations transferred to Globe Air Inc. Abe Sellards and Gene Packard continued to operate the business until 1985 when the decision was taken to close down.  An auction sale of aircraft and assets valued at over $4M commenced on 24 October 1985 at Falcon Field.

Sikorsky S-55 Whirlwinds:
During the 1960s large stocks of military disposals Sikorsky S-55 helicopters were acquired and rebuilt at Mesa as civil conversions. The modifications and improvements are detailed in Janes All The World Aircraft editions of the period. Demonstrators N455V and N4555Z were painted with "Aviation Specialities"titles by 1969.  A collection of stripped airframes of some thirty S-55s was stored in a fenced compound near the company hangars at Falcon Field.
The following S-55s were registered in both company names Aircraft Specialities Inc and Aviation Specialties Inc:
N91AS (c/n 55-646), N92AS (ex Bu130177), N455V (55-561), N455Z (ex Bu138512), N1255T (ex Bu138522), N2738 (55-1273),
N67036 (55-716), N67157 (55-661), N67158 (55-1202), N68397 (55-579), N7858 (55-989)
S-55s identified in the Mesa compound included: US Navy H-19s Bu129022, Bu138585, Bu144252 and USAF SH-19B 27519, 27579.
Also in the compound were ex US Army Piasecki CH-21 Workhorses 62138, 562148, 2155, 2095, 2133
During 1978 the compound was cleared and the stripped hulks of at least 20 helicopters were moved by road to Chandler Memorial airfield, near Phoenix where stored in a fenced off area. Over following years this collection of helicopter airframes, engines and parts was dispersed.
By 1980 an associated company was Helitec Inc, Mesa AZ.

Following the Globe Air closing down auction in July 1985, an additional auction was held at Falcon Field on 1 August 1986 offering the following as "Final liquidation of the Globe Air Helicopter Division":
Sikorsky S-55 N1255T, N75215, N75216, N2738, N7858 (all Garrett 331 turbine engine conversions).
Sikorsky S-58 N95954

Beech 18s:
- Aircraft Specialties Inc owned the following Beech 18s under their name:
Beech C18S N44581: (7993) by 1965, sold 5.12.68
Beech D18S N73548: (A-548) purchased 18.9.72 ex US Army disposals Davis Monthan AFB. Tfd 2.81 to Globe Air, sold 11.83
- Aviation Specialties Inc registered the following US Navy disposals SNB-5s in 1965:
N90297 (Bu39863), N90298 (Bu51045), N90299 (Bu51141): no civil conversion, stripped airframes in helicopter storage compound Mesa
- Desert Aviation Service registered the following US Navy disposals SNB-5s in 1963: only one civil conversion:
N2212S (Bu28386) CofA issued 17.3.66, sold .66 to John W. Coote, New Jersey.
Remainder no civil conversions:
N2205S (Bu39941), N2206S (Bu67344), N2207S (Bu39246), N2208S (Bu67263), N2209S (Bu29620), N2210S (Bu44655),
N2211S (Bu39945), N2213S (Bu89488), N2214S (Bu39865), N90250 (Bu26942)
Stripped SNB-5 airframes in the Mesa helicopter storage compound by 1971 were: Bu26942 (N90250), Bu39799, Bu29644
Former USAF C-45G 51-11903 marked "APCS" was a stripped airframe in Aircraft Specialties parking area Mesa in September 1968

PV-2 Harpoons: tanked for spraying with underwing spray bars, no indication Aircraft Specialties PV-2s were any used for fire bombing
C-121 Constellations: forest bud worm sprayers
Harpoons and Constellations flew annual seasonal low-level formation spraying of Canadian forests. A May 1973 report from Montreal Quebec recorded Constellations N711AS, N6228C and Harpoons N6718C, N7273C, N72707, N7486C transitting to spraying bases in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Other aircraft:
Boeing Stearman: N56716
North American T-28A N8098H by 1963 ex Max Biegert, Phoenic AZ. Sold 1966 to Lou Koffman at Aircraft Specialties Inc's address
Lockheed 18 Lodestar Dallaero conversion: N1940S (2509) purchased 11.68, maintained airworthy, Sold 24.10.85 at Globe Air closing down auction for $38K to Scoben Investments Inc.
Lockheed 18 Lodestar N34E (2082) acquired c1973 ex Biegert Bros, Mesa AZ in u/s condition. parked complete but faded paintwork at Aircraft Specialties storage ramp Mesa 1974-1985. N34E and N141C blown together by windstorm mid 1980s.
Lockheed 18 Lodestar N141C (2002) acquired c1976 in u/s condition titles "Vistas Unlimited Inc, parked at Aircraft Specialties storage ramp Mesa 1976-1985. Sold 24.10.85 atGlobe Air closing down auction for $400
Cessna 180 N4994A
 

Grumman J2F-6 Duck
N67790
Bu33587
3.61-11.64
  C07
purchased 21.3.61
300 gallon liquid tank installed at Mesa 1.62 by Desert Aviation Service,
flew as fire bomber in 1962,1963 & 1964 seasons,
sold 20.11.64
Grumman TBM
Avenger
N9564Z
Bu91388
1962-1963
  C34
purchased c62 ex Cisco Aircraft Inc, CA
sold 1963 to Desert Aviation Services as sprayer
Grumman TBM N9926Z
Bu91474
by 1963-6.70
  E38
registered by 1963 to Aircraft Specialties Inc
crashed 6.6.70 during fire bombing near Boise ID,
pilot baled out but k
Grumman TBM N9927Z
Bu85869
by 1963-1985
  C3
  E39
  C39
registered by 1963 to Aircraft Specialties Inc
remained with company until closure 1985
Grumman TBM N7850C
Bu69355
1965-10.67

purchased 1965 ex Desert Aviation Service
sold 12.10.67 to Ag Air, Dos Palos CA
Grumman TBM N9569Z
Bu91436
1965-1985
   -
purchased 1965 ex Desert Aviation Service
acquired as stripped airframe: parts use only
sold late 1980s to Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft FL
Grumman TBM
N9590Z
Bu91733
1965-1985
  C25
purchased c1965 ex Desert Aviation Service
remained with company until closure 1985
North American
B-25 Mitchell
N9117Z

44-29199 11.65-1975
  C35
tfd ex Abe's Aerial Service, Stafford AZ
USCR date of ownership change 11.65
retired Mesa 66-75
sold .75 to warbird dealer
B-25 Mitchell
N6123C
44-86893
11.65-1977
  C34
tfd ex Abe's Aerial Service, Stafford AZ
USCR date of ownership change 11.65
retired Mesa 66-76
sold .77 to warbird dealer
Douglas A-26 Invader N9301R
44-35872
by 1963-5.69
  C12
registered by 1963 to Aircraft Specialties Inc
crashed 16.5.69 on takeoff, Silver City NM
A-26 Invader
N9163Z
44-34659
6.68-6.73

purchased 27.6.68 ex David Voltz, Phoenix AZ
sold 6.73 to Kenting Aviation, Canada
Boeing B-17G
Fortress
N9563Z
44-83563
2.63-1985
  E24
  C24
  89
purchased 23.2.63 ex Columbia Pictures
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
Boeing B-17F N17W
42-29782
4.63-1985
  C84
  C44
   44
   04
tfd 17.4.63 ex Abe's Aerial Services AZ
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
Boeing B-17G N93012
44-83575
1965-1985
   99
salvaged .65 from Yucca Flats atomic test grounds Nevada where abandoned since 1952 tests,
registered 5.5.65 Aircraft Specialties Inc
named Lady Yucca
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
Boeing B-17G N3193G
44-85829
3.66-7.86
  C34
  34
purchased 19.3.66 ex Biegert Brothers NE
modified 1.68 from sprayer to fire tanker
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 2.7.86
Boeing B-17G N620L
44-85840
12.68-7.73
  C54
  54
purchased 12.68 ex Bolivia CP-620
dest. 12.7.73 while fire bombing, Eureka NV
Boeing B-17G N621L
44-85774
12.68-7.75
  C64
  64
purchased 12.68 ex Bolivia CP-621
crashed 15.7.75 fire bombing Cedar Breaks UT
Boeing B-17G N9323R
44-85828
5.78-11.80
  37
purchased 18.5.78 ex Kinney Air Tankers MT
donated 11.80 to Pima County Air Museum, Tucson AZ, delivered ex Mesa 11.80
Boeing B-17G -
44-83722
5.65-1985
   -
arrived Mesa 5.65 by road ex atomic test grounds Nevada where abandoned since 1952 tests,
stripped for spares
hulk sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
Boeing S307 Stratoliner
N19903
2003
5.69

purchased 28.5.69 at US Marshal auction
ferried 9.69 Shreveport LA to Mesa AZ, stored
planned conversion to sprayer not commenced
traded 8.72 with Smithsonian Institute for C-121C N73544, ferried .73 Mesa-Davis Monthan AFB for temporary display at Pima County Air Museum
Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
N6718C
Bu37449
3.63-1980

purchased 29.3.63
last report Mesa 10.79 in service, spraybars
cancelled from US Civil Register 5.11.80
PV-2D Harpoon
N7454C
Bu37633
8.64-1985

purchased 17.8.64
CofA 26.8.64 after mods to agricultural category
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
PV-2 Harpoon N7268C
Bu37129
2.66-1985

purchased 2.2.66, retired Mesa 77
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction, remained at Mesa
ownership reverted to Gene Packard Mesa 2008
PV-2 Harpoon N7273C
Bu37211
2.66-1985

purchased 28.2.66
ran off runway Macon GA 20.5.69 struck three parked aircraft (repaired)
remained with company until closure 1985
last flight Mesa 29.8.85, sold 24.10.85 at auction
PV-2 Harpoon N6855C
Bu37466
10.66-1985

remained with company until closure 1985
last flight Mesa 22.6.85, sold 24.10.85 at auction
PV-2 Harpoon N6852C
Bu37490
10.66-1983

last report Mesa 10.78 spraybars, fate unknown
cancelled from US Civil Register 24.10.83
PV-2 Harpoon N7269C
Bu37502
by 1968-1985

no civil conversion,
stored Mesa by 1968 stripped, USN blue paintwork
"37502 NAS Glenview/Grosse Ile/Los Alamitos",
airframe sold 3.85 to Confederate Air Force
PV-2D Harpoon N7415C
Bu84064
9.67-7.84

purchased 21.9.67 ex Zelair Corp OH sprayer
sold 7.84 to Confederate Air Force
crashed 1.5.85 Mesa AZ during CAF test flight
PV-2D Harpoon N230Z
Bu84059
c1967-4.75

purchased c67 ex freighter
crashed 28.4.75 landing Addison TX
PV-2 Harpoon N7486C
Bu37419
c1968-1985

purchased c68 ex Kay Barricklow IL
remained with company until closure 1985
last flight Mesa 30.8.85, sold 24.10.85 at auction
PV-2 Harpoon N72707
Bu37492
1969-1985

purchased in 1969 ex Colombian freighter
modification to ag spreader completed 10.70,
modification to insecticide sprayer 6.71,
remained with company until closure 1985
last flight Mesa 31.8.85, sold 24.10.85 at auction
PV-2 Harpoon N7414C
Bu37462
3.80-1985

purchased 4.3.80 ex Michigan Aerial Applicators
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
PV-2 Harpoon N6857C
Bu37250
3.80-1985

purchased 4.3.80 ex Michigan Aerial Applicators
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction
PV-2 Harpoon N7483C
Bu37202
3.81-1985

purchased 4.3.81 ex Dothan Aviation AL sprayer
remained with company until closure 1985
last flight Mesa 29.8.85, sold 24.10.85 at auction
Lockheed VC-121B
Constellation
N608AS
48-608
9.72-

purchased 26.9.72 ex Aero Tech, Tucson AZ
registered 26.5.73 N608AS, converted to sprayer
remained with company until closure 1985
Lockheed VC-121B
Constellation
N611AS
48-611
9.72-11.81

purchased 6.9.72 ex Aero Tech, Tucson AZ
converted to sprayer
sold 11.81 to Argo SA, Dominican Republic as HI-393, delivered via Miami 26.11.81
Lockheed C-121C
Super Constellation
N73544
54-156
8.72-12.82

issued 17.8.72 ex USAF disposals Davis Mothan AFB, exchange with Smithsonian Institute for
Boeing Stratoliner N19903
registered 26.3.73 N73544,
in service by 5.73 as insecticide sprayer
parked at Chandler Memorial AZ 1979-1982
sold 12.82 to Constellation Historical Society
Lockheed 1049H
Super Constellation
N6937C
4830
2.73-1985

purchased 12.2.73, converted at Mesa to sprayer
retired Mesa after 1975 season, stored Mesa
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction to Paul Pristo,
to Save-A-Connie Inc, Kansas City MO as flier
Lockheed 1049C
Super Constellation
N6228C
4536
3.73-3.79

purchased 20.3.73, converted at Mesa to sprayer
retired Mesa after 1975 season, stored Mesa
sold 3.79 to Aerotours, Dominican Republic as HI-329, delivered via Miami 8.4.79
Lockheed 1049G
Super Constellation
N173W
4674
3.73-6.73

purchased 8.3.73, converted at Mesa to sprayer
crashed destroyed 9.6.73 after take off at Casey, Quebec on forest chemical spraying mission
Lockheed 1049H
Super Constellation
N45516
4840
11.73-5.75

purchased 16.11.73 at auction of abandoned aircraft at Anchorage AK, del. Anchorage-Mesa 8.74,
converted at Mesa to sprayer
crashed 11.5.75 after take off Mesa AZ
Lockheed 1049H
Super Constellation
N45515
4843
8.73-1977

parts use only
purchased 8.73 stored u/s at Kingman AZ
stripped for parts, scrapped at Kingman 1977
Douglas C-54
N67024
Bu50871
12.74-1985

purchased 13.12.74 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ, registered 3.75 to AS
converted to insecticide sprayer at Mesa
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction to Environmental Aviation Services, Bourg LA as sprayer
Douglas C-54 N67019
Bu50865
1.75-1985
  (157)
purchased 21.1.75 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ, registered 4.75 to AS
converted to insecticide sprayer at Mesa
ferried to UK via Azores 27.3.78 for ocean oil slick spraying, returned via Bangor ME 7.4.78;
planned conv. to fire bomber and USFS tanker #157 painted on tail, but not used;
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 29.5.86 to Air Response Inc, Mesa AZ
Douglas C-54 N67018
Bu56544
2.75-1985
  (156)
purchased 21.2.75 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ,
no civil conversion, stored Mesa as parts source in US Marine Corps markings "QF"
remained with company until closure 1985,
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction to Wiley Sanders dba Sanders Lead Co, Troy AL
Douglas C-54 N67017
Bu39122
3.75-1985
  155
purchased 5.3.75 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ, registered 3.75 to AS,
retired Mesa 10.78 with damaged nose section, repaired CofA renewed 15.4.81
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 29.5.86 to Air Response Inc, Mesa AZ
Douglas C-54 N98AS
Bu50854
7.75-10.78

purchased 3.7.75 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ, registered 12.75 to AS
sold 10.78 to Tuky Air Transport, Puerto Rico
Douglas C-54 N99AS
Bu56549
7.75-1985
  154
purchased 3.7.75 ex US Navy disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ, registered 12.75 to AS
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 28.5.86 to Air Response Inc, Mesa AZ
Douglas C-54 N438NA
45-578
3.81-1985

purchased 3.81 ex NASA, converted to sprayer
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 6.3.86 to Air Response Inc, Mesa AZ
Douglas C-54 N811E
45-627
7.81-1985

purchased 7.81 ex Helitec Corp, Tucson as registered 8.81 N88945 to AS, rereg 10.82 N811E
remained with company until closure 1985
sold 24.10.85 at closing auction to
James R. Blumenthal, Kingman AZ as tanker
Douglas C-118
N44916
51-5830
6.76-10.79

purchased 23.6.76 ex USAF disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ,
no civil conversion
stored Mesa in USAF markings "15830",
sold 10.79 to Patrick W. Mortiarty, Tacoma WA
Douglas C-118
N44917
53-3262
6.76-2.78

purchased 23.6.76 ex USAF disposal at Davis Monthan AFB AZ,
no civil conversion
stored Mesa in USAF markings,
sold 2.78 to Rhoades International as N140JR
Grumman S-2F
Tracker
N5830H
Bu136666
12.84-1985

Purchased 7.12.84 ex Japan Maritime Self Defence Force disposals. Registered 12.84 to Globe Air
no civil conversion
sold 15.9.86 to Marsh Aviation, Mesas AZ
Grumman S-2F
Tracker
N5830D
Bu136668
12.84-1985

Purchased 7.12.84 ex Japan Maritime Self Defence Force disposals. Registered 12.84 to Globe Air
no civil conversion
sold 15.9.86 to Marsh Aviation, Mesas AZ





TB-25K Mitchell N6123C at Mesa AZ in September 1968 with belly tank and spraybars on the wings.
Photo by Neil Aird




B-25 Mitchell N9117Z #C35 at Mesa in June 1973 had been long retired.                    Photo by Gordon Reid




TBM Avenger N9690Z #C25 was a sprayer at Mesa in November 1969.               Photo by Gordon Reid




TBM N9927Z #39 at Mesa in October 1979 with belly tank and spraybars. The orange fire retardant stains on
the fuselage indicate it had recently been used for fire bombing.                          Photo by Geoff Goodall




B-17G N93012 #99 at Mesa in November 1981                                                      Photo by Geoff Goodall




B-17F N17W #04 landing at Fox Field Air Tanker Base CA in September 1981.          Photo by Geoff Goodall




PV-2 Harpoon N6718C insecticide sprayer at Mesa in October 1979.                      Photo by Geoff Goodall




Lockheed L1049H Super Constellation N6937C at Mesa in October 1977, with PV-2 Harpoons behind.
Photo by Geoff Goodall




  C-121B Constellation N611AS at Mesa October 1979, showing the spray bars.      Photo by Geoff Goodall




Aircraft Specialties Douglas C-54 N67019 at Mesa in November 1981. Although assigned USFS tanker #157,
it was never used as a fire bomber.                                                                 Photo by Geoff Goodall





Airspray Inc, Orlando, Florida *

Operated in the 1950s in association with Sky Spray Inc, both subsidiaries of United Heckathorn Inc, Richmond CA which had operated sgricultural aircraft since 1948.
Airspray and Skyspray operated heavy aircraft for insecticide spraying to combat medfly infestations in fruit orchards.

Douglas B-18B Bolo
N2801D
36-277
11.55-2.60
 
purchased 7.11.55 Heckathorn
operated by Skyspray in Florida
sold 2.60 to Mexico
Boeing 247D
N7777B
1688
4.58-1962

purchased Airspray Inc 2.4.58 ex Jesse Bristow, Miami FL
tanked for spraying. Retired.
Struck-off USCR 26.10.70
Fairchild C-82A
Packet
N4832V
44-23026
3.56-8.56

purchased 6.3.56 Heckathorn
chemical tank and plumbing installation 1.6.56,
operated by Skyspray Inc
crashed 8.8.56 landing Boca Raton FL, during fruit fly spraying
C-82A Packet
N4833V
44-23031
1956-1959

leased 1956 ex M&W Aircraft Leasing
operated by Skyspray Inc
C-82A Packet
N4834V
44-57733
1956-1959

leased 1956 ex M&W Aircraft Leasing
operated by Skyspray Inc1956-1959
C-82A Packet
N4835V
45-57736
1956

leased 1956 ex M&W Aircraft Leasing
sold 12.56 to Mexico
C-82A Packet
N4829V
44-23029
3.56-1962

purchased 6.3.56 Heckathorn
chemical tank and plumbing installation 1.6.56,
operated as sprayer with "SkySpray Inc" titles
Sold 5.1.62 to Ewell K. Nold TX





C-82A N4829V at Long Beach CA March 1963, after its sale but "SkySpray" is still painted under the cockpit.
It had just been modified to a Steward Davis Jet Packet 3400 with jetpak on roof.   Photo by Eddie Coates


Airway Inc, Yakima Washington
Airway Inc, PO Box 451, Yakima WA. an associated company to Ralph R. Richardson's Richardson Aviation Inc, Yakima.
One of many aerial agricultural operators serving the fruit and field crops of the Yakima Valley in Washington State.
Grumman Avengers were used for fire bombing.
Other aircraft:
Boeing Stearman N1153N, N4762N, N4813V, N4814V, N63070
Stinson L-5 Sentinel N68840
Snow 600 N1763S

Grumman TBM
N7031C
Bu53484
2.61-6.70
  111
purchased 23.2.61
crashed in trees 21.6.70 while forest spaying near
St Martins, New Brunswick, Canada
Grumman TBM
N7032C (1
Bu53637
by 1961

crashed 9.7.61 on takeoff Idaho City ID on fire fighting operations
Grumman TBM
N7032C (2
Bu85460
by 1962-c1974
  112
leased 67-68 to Marom Ltd, Israel for fruit spraying in Israel and Greece
sold c74 to Hillcrest Aircraft, Lewistown ID




A.J. Air Tankers Inc, Van Nuys Airport, California

A.J. Air Tankers Inc, 15154 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles CA
Established
by Jack Folz
Circa 1963 took over the operations of Bellroy Air Tankers, Los Angeles. Bellroy had introduced the North American AJ-1 Savage as a heavy fire bomber in 1960 when they had two AJ-1s rebuilt at Long Beach Airport with a 2000 gallon retardant tank, auxiliary jets removed  and re-engined with uprated P&W Double Wasp R2800-CB16s with water injection. Both were painted white and orange with blue cowlings.

The 1963 season US Forestry Service air tanker allocation list shows A.J. Air Tankers with both AJ-1s based at Van Nuys Airport CA.
N9143Z crashed into a North Hollywood residential area after takeoff from Burbank in September 1966 loaded with retardant slurry. Pilot Jack Hennessey was killed but managed to miss housing and put the aircraft down through backyards and vacant lots. The repercussions of this accident caused the company to cease operations. The other Savage was left parked in the weather at Burbank until scrapped in 1972.

North American
AJ-1 Savage
N9142Z
Bu124158
1963-1967
  E77
retired at Burbank CA 1967-72, scrapped 1972

North American
AJ-1 Savage
N9143Z
Bu124167
1963-9.66
  E88
crashed 17.9.66 after take off from Burbank Airport





              Two views of North American AJ-1 Savage N9143Z #E77 at the Van Nuys USFS tanker base in 1965    
            







Ames Applicator Corp, Ames Iowa *
An agricultural spraying operation which may have been involved in fire bombing

Other aircraft: Cessna 310D N6969T (by 1969 sold c71)

Beech C-45G
N9898Z
51-11727
by 1963-1965
 
sold c65 to Hamilton Aircraft Co, Tucson AZ
Douglas A-26 Invader
N91356
44-34344
by 1966-12.70

gear collapsed landing 28.6.69 at Ames IA after mosquito spraying, wreck stored at Ames IA until 1974 although sold 12.70 to Aero Union Corp as a parts source




AquaAir Inc, Alomogordo, New Mexico
AquaAir Inc, 3500 Airport Road, Alomordo NM
Founded in 1996 as a new-start family-owned fire tanker operation by Charles H. and Mary Hainline.
Based at Alomogordo Airport, where a successful Neptune tanker business was operated by Arnold Kolb's Black Hills Aviation.
Charlie Hainline advertised that AquAir's 5 employees had between them over a 100 years of aviation experience.
Modification of their first Neptune was completed in 2000, fitted with a constant-flow retardant tank.

Other aircraft:
- Grumman HU-16C Albatross N70252 (ex Bu142362): purchased 3.04 as a stripped airframe in a contractors yard at Davis Monthan AFB,
made ferriable and delivered to Alomorgordo NM where seen paeprked in faded US Navy markings by 2007. Restored and sold by 2012.

-
Grumman HU-16B Albatross N85303 (ex USAF 51-5303): purchased 6.04 airworthy, sold 11.04

Lockheed SP-2H Neptune
N4692A
Bu148357
10.97-2.07
   48
purchased 8.10.97 ex Mid Atlantic Air Museum, Reading PA as "US Navy 148357/PL-6",
stored Harlong FL, tanker conv. at Jacksonville FL
leased 2001-07 to Minden Air NV as tanker #48, sold 2.07 to Minden Air Corp NV




Arbor Air Inc, Columbus, Nebraska *
Arbor Inc, Columbus NE. 
Established circa 1979 by Eino William Waara, an experienced propliner pilot, as an agricultural operation.
Probably connected with El Marc Air also at Columbus NE, which took over the two C-119Ls.
By 1983 Arbor Air Inc was quoting addresses at Laredo TX and Ypsilanti Michigan.
By 1989 William Warra was based at Opa Locka Florida operating DC-6s ands DC-7s as Gomes and Warra Aircraft Inc.

Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon
N7272C
Bu37276
8.80-5.88
 
purchased 6.8.80
sold 5.88 to Hirth Air Tankers, Buffalo MT
Lockheed PV-2
N7670C
Bu37472
8.81-1987

purchased 8.81
sold .87 to Hirth Air Tankers, Buffalo MT
Fairchild C-119L
Flying Boxcar
N37484
53-3144
3.81-5.81

purchased 18.3.81 ex Dross Metals, Tucson AZ
sold 5.81 to El Marc Air, Columbus NE
Fairchid C-119L
N37483
53-7884
3.81-5.81

purchased 18.3.81 ex Dross Metals, Tucson AZ
sold 5.81 to El Marc Air, Columbus NE
Douglas C-54
N67221
Bu50856
12.82-2.83

purchased 16.12.82 ex Bud's Flying Service NE
sold 2.83 to Louis Minkoff, Ypsilanti MI
Douglas DC-7B
N1097
45342
4.83-6.84

purchased 29.4.83 ex T&G Inc, Phoenix AZ #82
del. to Miami 13.9.83, based at Opa Locka FL
sold 5.6.84 to Arrow Air




ARDCO Inc, Tucson-Ryan Field, Arizona
ARDCO Inc, Tucson AZ. (Aerial Retardant Delivery Company)
Principles Ken White and Gary Garrett, both Captains on their C-54 tankers.
ARDCO was a 1982 restructure of the fire tanker operator WAIG Aircraft Inc, Tucson AZ. Based at Tucson-Ryan Field AZ.
By 1990 Gary Garrett and his wife Megan, also a C-54 pilot, were managing the company.

WAIG Aircraft Inc had been formed in 1976 based on the initials of the four partners, former pilots or engineers with Hawkins & Powers Aviation in Wyoming:  Ken White, Clyde Alford, Roger Iverson and Gary Garrett.
Clyde Alford was killed 2 December 1980 in the crash of WAIG C-54 N96449 #119. It had collided mid-air with WAIG C-54 N406WA #119 near Palm Springs CA, the crew of the damaged  #119 were able to reach Tucson and land safely.
WAIG Aircraft Inc designed and built its own 8-tank under-belly retardant tank delivery system, initially with hydraulic activation. Further development led to electric activation systems controlled from a cockpit console. ARDCO carried out the conversion for other C-54 tanker operators, including Aero Flite's N96358.

In August 1999 at the closing-down auction of Catalina tanker operator SLAFCO in Washington, ARDCO successfully bid for a stock of Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone power plants. N406WA had been re-engined with R-2600s back in 1979 when tanked by WAIG Inc, but there is no indication that other ARDCO C-54s received these more powerful engines.

ARDCO appears to have ceased flying by 2005.  In 2002 an ARDCO pilot reported that a USFS bureaucrat had suggested that they should re-engine their C-54s with turboprops.

Douglas C-54

N406WA
45-491
1981-12.07
  119
Tfd 11.81 ex WAIG Aircraft Inc (Wright R-2600s)
sold 12.07 to Florida Air Transport
Douglas C-54 N460WA
44-9133
1981-2.10
  151
Tfd 11.81 ex WAIG Aircraft Inc
sold 2.10 to Florida Air Transport
Douglas C-54 N8502R
Bu90411
1981-1983
  165
Leased from Kenneth Spiva, Stockton CA for 1981-1983 seasons at least,
tanked .81 with WAIG design belly tank
returned to Ken Siva who on-sold to TBM Inc 2.87
Douglas C-54 N9015Q
43-17228
4.82-10.08
  152
Purchased 4.82 ex Dept of Justice seizure
tanked with WAIG design belly tank
sold 10.08 to Air Elite Corp TX
Douglas C-54
N95589
43-17185
1.89-2005

Purchased 18.1.89
parts source, stripped at Tucson-Ryan Field bu 8.89, derelict in faded Seagreen paint scheme,
later scrapped. struck-off USCR 12.5.05
Douglas C-54 N82FA
45-507
11.89-8.94
  153
Purchased 11.89
anked with WAIG design belly tank
sold 9.8.94 to Aero Flite inc, Kingman AZ
Douglas C-54 N49451
42-72617
3.92-2008
   -
Purchased 3.92
parts source, stripped at Tucson-Ryan Field AZ,
derelict, faded USAF markings, last reported 2008





C-54Q N406WA #119 at Tucson AZ in November 1981.  This aircraft had been re-engined by WAIG with
more powerful P&W R-2600 Twin Wasp engines.                                  Photo by Geoff Goodall





                           Douglas C-54T N8502R #165 at Tucson in November 1981 retains its former US Marine Corps scheme
from its VIP transport days, including the painted square window shape.        Photo by Geoff Goodall

 
This view of N8502R shows the belly 2000 gallon retardant tank and drop doors of the WAIG Aircraft Inc design
Photo by Geoff Goodall


 

ARDCO C-54 N9015Q #152 on station at Fox Air Tanker Base, Lancaster CA in November 1990.
Photo by Geoff Goodall




Fred Arnberg Inc, Yreka, California

Fred J. Arnberg, PO Box 1007, Yreka CA
Operated the first military-surplus Grumman Tigercats converted to fire tankers for several seasons in the early 1960s
Other aircraft:
Cessna T-50 Bobcat N49445 (1963-1971) restoration project with Ralph Ponte at Grass Valley CA in 1976

Grumman F7F-3
Tigercat
N7655C
Bu80418
by 1961
  E20
First F7F modified as a tanker

crashed 1.9.61 near Sacramento CA while fire bombing
Grumman F7F-3

N7625C
Bu80536
1962
  E22
purchased 27.2.62
crashed 24.9.62 near Callahan CA
Grumman F7F-3
N6179C
Bu80494
by 1963-3.65
  E21
  E23

sold 30.3.65 to Sis-Q Flying Service, Montague CA





Fred Arnberg F7F Tigercat N7625C in 1962 with tanker number E22 (the second) - what was the first E22?
Photo by Warner E. Stewart via Bill Bailey collection


A.V. Aircraft Co, Lancaster, California *
A.V. Aircraft CoPO Box 603, Lancaster CA and Deming NM
Associated with A.V. Pest Control Co, PO Box 603, Lancaster CA
Insecticide spraying operation which took its name from Lancaster being in the Antelope Valley district north of Los Angeles.
Other aircraft:
Boeing Stearman: N53403, N53476, N62863
Vultee BT-13: N57234

Grumman TBM
N66475
Bu69344
c1965-c1971
 
purchased c65 ex Ball Ralston OR sprayer
sold c71 to Hemet Valley Flying Service CA





A.V.Aircraft Co Grumman TBM Avenger sprayer N66475 at Lancaster-Fox Field CA in November 1969.
Photo by Barney Deatrick


Avery Aviation, Greybull Wyoming
see Christler and Avery Aviation, Greybull WY
see Hawkins & Powers Aviation, Greybull WY




Avery Aviation's veteran Douglas B-18 N52056 fire tanker #B20 in action at Greybull WY during the 1960s.
This trial drop was right on target to hit the two fuel drums!                        Photo: US Forest Service
   
  Part 2: B - C



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